Wildlife Crossing In Grand Teton National Park

“Pay Attention:  Wildlife On Road!” 

 This sign greets all visitors to Grand Teton National Park, but let me be the first to tell you it is absolutely true!  You never know when you will have something or a herd of “somethings” dash in front of your car… and let’s just say some of the animals in this park will take on a truck and win!

Let’s just take a quick look at a few of the animals I have had cross my path since arriving her in May!

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A relatively large elk…

Now this buckaroo, decided to mosey across the road right in front of our car.   We were lucky we saw it in time because he would have caused a lot of damage!

 

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A Bison…

This guy really doesn’t seem to care who is on the road…but I recommend staying far away from him as they can run up to 30 mph without warning!  In this case, I guess he decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the road!

 

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A Moose….

As we came around the bend in the road, she was right in sight.  Luckily she was just beginning the cross and quickly headed into the brush so other cars wouldn’t be surprised by her!

 

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A Grizzly Bear….

This guy is definitely the king of our forest.  So when he crosses your path, you definitely want to stop!

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A Car Jam!

I’d say the most dangerous road hazard in Grand Teton National Park can be the other drivers, so pull to the side of the road if to stay clear of other Park visitors if you do see something of interest!  Most speedlimits within the park are 45 mph, that’s to help avoid an encounter with an animal.  We know there is a lot of open road, but the wildlife is abundant as well, and staying safe is everyone’s top priority!   Keep your eyes open because you never know when a bear, moose, elk or bison jam is going to sneak up on you!  

 

From Melissa’s Corner!

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Colter’s Floatin’ the Snake River

Hi everyone!  It’s me Colter Moose and today I’m floatin’ the Snake River with the Grand Teton Lodge Company boatmen.  These guys get to cruise the river all day long as their job…and I thought I had it good!

Anyway, I’ve heard all about the dinner they put together on the banks of the Snake River, so I thought I’d try the “Supper Float Trip”.  You see our meal site is located just below the Snake River Overlook ~ the place Ansel Adams made famous for his photos of Grand Teton National Park.  It’s a pretty scenic place to have dinner….

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Speaking of dinner, the chef (shown above) cooks steaks and trout on an open grill.  I’m told there is something special about meals cooked outdoors.  Since I don’t really eat the same types of food as our guests do…I’ll have to take their word for it…but let me know what you think if you join us on this activity!

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During dinner I made a few friends.  This is Katie sitting at one of the picnic benches before dinner began. 

After dinner, we put on life jackets, listened to the boatmen talk about the trip and how best to prepare for our adventure…here’s a photo of Katie and Kelly as we boarded the rafts!

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 The big boats hold up to 20 people.  This is a photo of the rest of the people on our trip who were just about to depart for their 10 mile scenic journey down the Snake River.

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 The guides make each trip unique as they talk about the area, tell folk tales, provide historical information and help guests search for wildlife along the way!

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This here is Mike, a boatman who helps guide river trips ~ he also grew up here in Grand Teton National Park…so he has lots of stories to tell!

(I’m not that great at taking photos, so I asked a friend of mine who is a photographer,Dan Sullivan,if I could use a few of his.)

This photo was taken by a real photographer...Dan Sullivan

The scenery is so unique…And it just keeps getting better and better along the way!

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 On our trip we were lucky to see lots of wildlife.  I’m new to this park so I haven’t made many friends.  Everyone thought it was just because I was along that we saw so many animals along the river, but our guide assured them…this happens often ~ especially on the early morning and evening trips.  Above, can you see the bald eagle in the tree?  This was one of my photos…sorry it’s not clearer, but I hope you can make him out – he’s in the center of the photo.

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 …and here, now this is a challenge…but that rock-like ball sitting just in the water on the right side…that’s a beaver.  There were 5 of them on this trip that we came across – it was pretty cool to see them swimming in and out of their homes along the river banks.

We were also able to find a “real” moose on the river banks, had a heron fly right along side the raft, and encountered many ducks in the river as well

Once we ended the trip, everyone else got out and I was the last one in the boat.  Sort of looks like I’m one the one in charge here doesn’t it??  Hmmm….maybe I should entertain a career change. 

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Bison Calves

Calving season is upon us in Grand Teton National Park. A herd of Bison are hanging out near Gros Ventre Campground, with a couple calves and yearlings.

It’s estimated that over 50 million American bison once roamed the Great Plains before they were nearly hunted to extinction by settlers. Size does not slow down the largest land mammal in North America. Even at 750-2500 pounds, Bison can run up to speeds of 35 mph. See these mammals roaming the Park, as calves are being born.

 

 

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Bison Calf
 
 

Adult Bison

 

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Young Adult Crossing the Road

 

 

 

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New Life in the Park

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Spring fever is raising temperatures and melting the snow in Grand Teton National Park. The season is in full swing, as new life joins us in the Park. Herds are beginning their migration from lower winter feeding grounds to higher summer grounds and females are beginning to give birth, providing the opportunity to observe and study Mother Nature at her finest. 

Below is a breakdown for understanding the process of life for some of our larger mammal populations in the Park:

 
Moose:

As the male moose emits a deep, grunting call, his rutting season begins in September and extends into October.  Bulls guard their right to mate through intimidation and fights.  Around mid-May to early June, one or two calves are born to the cows and will remain close, weaned in winter or the following spring.

Bison:

Showing dominance through bellowing, wallowing, and fighting, bull bison mate in late July and August.  During rut, one bull will remain with one female until she is ready to mate.  One calf will be born in late April and May and may be suckled through its second winter.  Calves are able to keep up with the herd soon after birth.

Elk:

The cool fall air from August to mid-October echoes with the bugling of mature bull elk, signaling their rut season.  Bulls equipped with mature antlers, guard their opportunity to mate with their harem through aggressive intimidation and fights.  One calf will be born the following spring from May to June, and weaned in 4-5 weeks.

Grizzly Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male grizzly (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the female (sow) to reach the den and assure chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in mid-October, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in April.  A mature female will usually breed every three years after chasing off the previous young, to protect them from attacks from the mating boar. 

Black Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male black bear (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the females chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in November, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in March.  The cubs normally winter with their mother and are weaned the following September.  A mature female will usually breed in alternate years. 

Each morning, I peer through the windows of the upper lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge to observe the expanse of nature surrounding us. Not far from where I stand, elk and moose cows are migrating to Willow Flats to give spring birth.  What a fulfilling sight to experience Mother Nature’s wonder.  As these populations assemble, so do others.  We are beginning to observe the gathering of wolves and grizzly bears. Spring calves provide an ample food source for predators and this season will be no different.  By visiting, you are experiencing part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth today.  We invite you to come and witness this spectacle for yourself.

 

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Seeking a great resource on information about the seasonal timeline of our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses Grand Teton National Park? “For Everything There Is A Season,” by Dr. Frank C. Craighead, Jr., Ph.D., provides a wonderful outline of what a year entails here.

 
Posted from Don’s Corner ~ GTLC Interpretive Specialist

Kids Walk on the Wild Side

For kids, Grand Teton National Park can be a pretty exciting place to explore. From their first Snake River float trip to seeing a 2400 pound bison, there are endless experiences to be shared.

Wildwalk Field Guide is a program that GTLC developed for families to discover the unique nature that surrounds us in the Park.

 

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Wildwalk Field Guide (available in color)

 

Illustrated and written by our employees, the guide features activities to educate kids on Park etiquette, adventures, the Junior Ranger Program, and much more. Kids follow Ranger Pat and Butterfly as they color, word search, check off, and photo hunt their way through the Park.

The guide provides a strong emphasis on Leave No Trace principles, an education program that teaches outdoor enthusiasts how to protect the places they love. Kids learn about the Leave No Trace principles including:

Plan ahead and prepare

Dispose of waste properly

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Minimize campfire impacts

Respect wildlife

Be considerate of other visitors

When the guide is completed, kids can sign a Certificate of Achievement for learning and practicing these principles. The guide creates a fun and interactive way for kids to learn about and explore the Park.

Other great activities for families to enjoy:

Wagon Ride: Seasonal based on Jackson Lake Lodge to Colter Bay Village Wagon Road accessibility; interactive ride with wagon driver.

Snake River Wild & Scenic Float Trip: Participants must be large enough to fit the life vests properly (typically 6 yrs or older); interactive float – guide may allow assistance with oars as river safety allows.

Guided fishing on Jackson Lake: Originating at Colter Bay Marina – a great activity for the whole family; guided fly fishing excursions on the Snake River are also available.

Horseback Rides and Pony Rides: Horseback rides originate at Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village – riders must be 8 years old to participate in the guided trail rides; riders under 8 yrs old can take a pony ride around the corral area instead.  Riding helmets are available.

Jackson Lake Cruise: Get your Jr. Boat Captain License by driving the Rendevous or Teewinot Cruisers; breakfast and dinner cruises include a meal on Elk Island with lots of areas to explore; activity originates at Colter Bay Marina.

Interpretive Bus Tour: Guided tours of Grand Teton and/or Yellowstone National Parks.

Jackson Lake Lodge Swimming Pool:  Open early June to early September – weather permitting.  The complex includes a full size outdoor pool, wading pool and playground.

Pool BBQ:  A Western-style BBQ dinner designed for the family is held at the Jackson Lake Lodge pool complex from late June through mid-August.  Enjoy live music and eating outside while taking advantage of lots of opportunities to make new friends.

Hiking: Over 250 miles to explore by foot.

National Park Service Interpretive Talk: Located on the west terrace at Jackson Lake Lodge, as well as other ranger programs at the Visitor Centers and the Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Reserve.

History Walks: Join our company historian at Colter Bay Village.

Junior Park Ranger: Offered by the National Park Service at the Visitor Centers. 

 

Grand Teton National Park is the ultimate playground. For first time visitors of all ages, it is a breath-taking place. You feel an overwhelming sense of awe when you walk up the stairs of Jackson Lake Lodge and look through the 60 foot windows.  They unveil the magnificent peaks that appear as if you can just reach out and touch them. You have to pinch yourself and ask am I really here? When kids experience this at a young age it instills an appreciation for our environment and national parks that they will carry and share with their own families. We invite you to come play and stay awhile. All those “Are we there yets?” are worth every moment here.